Chris Lamberti: 3 Million Minute Workout!

August 28th, 2014

I invented an intense 13-step workout over the weekend. I think it’s going to be all the rage.

It starts with a piece of home exercise equipment. If you don’t have one that’s ok. Just go out and buy something: a spinning bike, a treadmill, anything involving free weights. But none of that flimsy, fold up, store-it-in-your-closet crap. It’s got to be bulky and high-grade steel reinforced. The heavier the better, for reasons you’ll learn later in the workout.

Sure your top-of-the-line exercise machine will cost more money than you can afford, but justify it by telling yourself how much you’re saving by not joining a gym. Then assemble the monstrosity in your bedroom, and gaze at it with pride.

My workout device was a choice Schwinn home elliptical machine.

Step Two of the workout is to be motivated to use your exercise equipment a few times a week for a while. You’ll feel spry and monetarily justified. These will be the greatest days of your life.

The next step of the workout is to get bored with using your exercise machine and discover that there are other things you’d rather do at home than work out, like watch a ballgame, eat some snacks, or take a nap.

Step Four: Wait. And Wait. And Wait some more. The longer the better. I’d recommend five years minimum.

You’ll fall out of shape. And you’ll tell yourself every once in a while that you’ll give the machine another whirl, only to fail to muster the interest required to remove the layers of semi-soiled clothing strewn about the apparatus.

Fear not, this is part of the workout.

The next step requires a workout partner—a romantic companion, a gestapo roommate, a talking pet—someone who shares your living space, requires appeasement, and has grown weary of assurances that you’re going to get back into shape after some arbitrary event in the near future.

chrisfarleyworkout

Let’s start the workout…

 

Like any good workout partner, this person is around for motivation. She or he will threaten you with social embarrassment or bodily harm unless you move “that two-hundred pound dirty clothes rack” out of your one bedroom apartment.

Step Seven is to move the exercise machine to your mother’s house. Don’t enlist anyone’s help to do this if you want to get the full effect of the workout. And oh, you’ll need to rent a U-Haul van because the fucking machine won’t fit in your fucking car.

At this point we enter the advanced stage of the workout. It moves swiftly and requires greater dexterity. Don’t get discouraged. Practice makes perfect and all that.

The next step requires that the temperature outside is ninety degrees Fahrenheit or more. Then attempt to transfer the machine out of your non-air conditioned apartment and into the van. Since your palms are sweaty, there is no good place to grip the thing, and its weight is unevenly distributed, you might end up scratching the hardwood floor or chipping a vintage door casing.

Again, fear not, this is part of the workout.

After you somehow drag the machine outside the door and into the hallway, the next step is to realize that the stairwell is too narrow and the machine too heavy for one person to manage a stairway descent.

And so this step requires a workout accessory. Not a kettle bell or a yoga mat, but an Allen wrench. You’ll want to use the tool to remove the screws and any of the machine’s protruding metal appendages so that you can get it down the stairs.

At this point you should be sweating like you’re strapped to a forest fire.

scottieandmichael

I’m tired from all this working out…

 

Step Nine requires you call another workout partner, this time the building maintenance man, to help you get the exercise machine downstairs and into the van, all the while giving you a look suggesting he thinks you’re pathetic as you repeatedly gasp for breath.

When you get to the service entrance next to the parking lot, your long-dormant muscles will be burning, your t-shirt will be soaked with perspiration, and you’ll feel a little faint.

Now jump in the van and drive, trying not to pass out while you drink water until the dehydration-induced hallucinations cease.

Step Eleven: When you arrive at your mother’s house, realize that the stairwell to her basement is even narrower than yours and so you have a major problem. Curse the day you were born and get slapped by your mom who you forgot was standing next to you. Declare “fuck it,” and decide to take apart the whole machine with your Allen wrench, piece by piece.

If you’ve performed the workout correctly to this point, your once-prized exercise apparatus is lying in about fifteen sections on the floor of a rented cargo van on a sizzling hot summer day.

The next step is to carry each piece from the van, through your mother’s garage and kitchen, down the stairs, and place it nicely in the corner of her basement next to your old baseball card collection and the stuffed fish you caught when you were nine years old.

By the time you’ve gone up and down your mother’s basement stairs fifteen times your legs should be in full cramp. As for the rest of your body, you’ll have pushed yourself well beyond the meager limits of your couch-potato physique and entered a heretofore unknown world of anguish and suffering.

When you lay down that last section of your exercise machine, you’ll recognize for a fleeting moment the irony that this was the greatest workout of your life. But of course you’ll lack the energy to smile.

Mercifully, step thirteen is to collapse from exhaustion onto the cold concrete floor of your mother’s basement and literally die.

And with that your 3 Million Minute Workout is complete. Make sure to cool down and give your body at least a day to recover before you repeat.

 

Editor’s Note: Chris‘ last post for The Third City was My Take

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Jim Siergey: Handy Man

August 25th, 2014

A few years back we had our kitchen remodeled. Walls were torn down to the laths and reconstructed so they were actually level, new flooring was put in, new ceiling, light fixtures–we went whole hog (my apologies to any vegetarians who might be reading this). Even I, the obstacle to change of any kind, had to admit that this overhaul needed to be done.

Of course, I did not have a hand in the construction. The only tools I own or have ever used are a variety of screwdrivers, some pliers, a hammer and a small handsaw with a bent blade. Some things are best left to the professionals…or talented amateurs.

We had a granite countertop installed and asked our contractor to build us a custom square table with a matching granite top that would fit against the wall on one side (It’s a small kitchen). This completed our new kitchen and it looked marvelous. Well, it almost completed it. We purchased a pair of swiveling bar stools of dark metal to match the table top. Then the room was complete.

jamestaylor

J.T. wrote a song about Mr. Siergey…

 

After a while we realized that the backs of one of these swiveling stools hit and dug into the wall, chipping off the paint.

I patched this marring up a couple of times and repainted it but it didn’t take long for it to happen again. After a couple of years living with this open scar upon our wall, my wife went to Home Depot and bought an eight foot length of chair rail. A friend of mine has a wood shop so I took it over to him so he could use a table saw and slice this long piece of wood to the desired length of 25 ¼ inches.

After reading that paragraph about my skimpy tool belt, it’s not difficult for you to imagine that I have never been able to bring myself to operate any piece of machinery with blades—table saws, jigsaws and the like. I don’t trust myself around them plus I value my fingers. Those things come in handy. I have used a regular hand saw on many occasions and have suffered only very minor injuries.

To match the metal stools, this piece of wood needed to be painted black. I had a bottle of black Cel-Vinyl® paint from my animation days that had to have been at least 20 years old but, like fine scotch, it’s still good stuff.

I applied a couple of coats and then sprayed it with an acrylic sealer. After it dried for a couple of days, the time had come to affix it to the kitchen wall.

threestoogescarpenter

The boys at TTC do a little carpentry work…

 

Being no fool (anymore) I used a level (a level, mind you!) and marked off on the wall where this chair rail should be affixed so that it would be straight. Using some brown finishing nails and a hammer that was a bit too large for the job, I hammered the rail into place. I only had to remove and rehammer one of the three nails and the other marks left by the large-faced hammer as well as the brown nail heads were easily touched up with the Cel-Vinyl®.

Unfortunately while wielding the 24″ long level I put a gouge in the wall far from where the chair rail would sit.

Down in the basement I still had the can of paint that was used to paint the kitchen and there was still some left in it. (See? It sometimes pays to never throw anything away.) Unfortunately, despite my perfunctory searching, I could find no spackling paste anywhere. I decided to go ahead and touch up the gouge with the paint anyway. Maybe it will go unnoticed. Plus, I could always pick up some Spackle® at some other point in time and properly touch up the wall scar, sand and repaint.

I sealed the paint can with Cling Wrap® so it should still be good even a few more years from now, which is about when I’ll get around to purchasing some Spackle®. In fact, by then that paint might be thick enough that it would work as both a filler and a colorer!

The lazy man’s guide to home repairs—I should write a book.

 

Editor’s Note: Jim‘s last post for The Third City was Millennium Music

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Jim Siergey: Millennium Music

August 21st, 2014

The missus and I went to the final concert of the season at Millennium Park and met some met some friends there. They had blankets, chairs, food, wine—all the comforts one needs for listening to orchestral music under the stars. All that was missing were the stars as the skies were cloudy. But no rain so no complaints.

We were situated on the lawn directly in the center of the bandshell. The Standard Oil Building seemed to burst through Frank Gehry’s creation like a phallic phoenix.

Is it still called the Standard Oil Building? Doesn’t matter to me as it will always be the S.O.B., no matter what you’re talkin’ about, Willis.

I had a nice view of my favorite Chicago skyscraper, the Prudential Building. Since it is dwarfed by all the other edifices erected since its creation can it still be called a skyscraper? It may be hard to believe but at one time it was the tallest building in Chicago.

I noticed something funny thing about the Prudential Building that I thought at first was only my imagination running a little wild. As darkness descended I saw that what I was seeing could indeed be believed. The lights were left lit on various floors and they formed a silhouette of the Michael Jordan statue that is in front of the United Center. Does His Airness shill for Prudential Insurance or are they just such big fans that they can’t let go of the past?

‘Tis puzzling.

There was a large crowd at this concert—families, old folks, young folks, an entire olio of ethnicities. Good ol’ melting pot Chicago. On a blanket to the right of me was a couple who apparently couldn’t afford a room. A tall willowy blonde and a swarthy Latin Lover type were making out to beat the band…and the band hadn’t even begun yet. Fortunately, they were situated in my blind spot.

Another couple came with what I thought were odd accoutrements. They had towels that looked like American flags. They laid the terrycloth Old Glories ontto the grass and sat upon them. Whenever I see items like that, bikinis and other attire in the design of the Star Spangled Banner, I always flash back upon Abbie Hoffman getting arrested back in the ‘60s for wearing a shirt with an American flag design.

 

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If you look, you’ll see Jim — somewhere in the crowd…

 

How the times have changed, at least, sartorially.

Ravel’s “Daphnis and Chloe” was to be performed that evening. Years ago, I had a cat named Chloe. Another feline eventually joined the family so I named her Daphne. I tried to teach them to meow the overture but they just weren’t musically inclined.

As evening’s inky fingertips began to paint the sky, the music began. It was some modern orchestral music. One of my fellow gatherers turned to me asked “What music is this? Is it John Cage?” I replied that it couldn’t be because it was too tonal.

Now, I like John Cage. I was once at the Symphony Center where the CSO played one of his works. Several members of the audience left during the performance and at the end, of the audience that remained, half stood and clapped while the other half sat and booed. John Cage himself was in attendance. Down in the front row, he stood, turned and happily waved at the crowd. I’m sure he loved the reaction.

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Mr. Balcom happens to be a huge fan of TTC…

 

I ambled over to some people who had programs and asked them who the composer was of the music being played. One of them gave me her program so I learned that the composer was William Bolcom (born in 1938). Some of his selected songs that were performed earlier in the week were listed in the program. Here are the lyrics to one of them. It’s called Surprise.

Surprise! Her twenty-fifth year at the office!
They threw her a surprise party!
Surprise! Surprise! Surprise!
And they were surprised
when she tried to drink iodine
from the paper cup at the water cooler
of cool spring water…

Hmm, I’ve got to learn more about this guy.

The Bolcom piece ended and a 60 or 70 voice chorale joined the orchestra to help make the Ravel piece even more magnificent. So, with an illuminated Michael Jordan looking down upon us we whiled away one of the waning days of summer entranced by a musical interpretation of an old Greek tale about the love affair of a shepherd and a shepherdess.

Hmmm, perhaps that couple in my blind spot was merely re-enacting the story. Ah, as the bard wrote, “if music be the food of love, play on.”

 

Editor’s Note: Jim’s last post for The Third City was A Dusseldorf Doff of the Hat

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Jim Siergey: A Dusseldorf Doff of the Hat!

August 18th, 2014

Our two weeks in southern Europe visiting Krąków, Zakopane and Prague was coming to an end. My three traveling companions and I covered a lot of ground, mostly by foot, but also via bus, train, tram and the underground Metro. The time had come to board an airplane.

As I mentioned in Chapter One of this behemoth of a blog, my experience at the Prague airport was not a pleasant one. I kept setting off the metal detector so off came my belt and my shoes, my pockets were emptied of everything, even lint balls, and I was wanded and searched carefully by hand. Nothing, of course, was found so I was finally allowed to dress and depart for the gate.

Our stopover was in Dusseldorf, Germany. I love saying that name so I will do so again. Dusseldorf. I think there was a Randy Newman song about Dusseldorf. (There! I said it again!) Please excuse me while I Google.

Yep, “In Germany Before the War.” It’s on YouTube. Check it out. It’s a plaintive tune.

randynewmanThe great Mr. Newman once sang a song about Dusseldorf…

I must say this about the airport in Du—well, you know where. Bless those sweet Germans for their feather soft toilet paper. It even has the image of a feather embossed upon each sheet. It was heavenly after two weeks of the wood-chipped paper of Poland and the Czech Republic.

Now, I don’t know if any of you have ever flown Lufthansa but I highly recommend it. I’ve never flown First Class and I didn’t this time either but it sure felt like what I imagine First Class is like. First of all, this was a huge airplane, a football field in length, maybe longer. It had three rows of seats in proportions of four, six and four. There must have been eight bathrooms on this monster and those were just the ones near me. There may have been others further back and forward.

They fed us—more than once! It was tasty food too. Drinks were provided and not just juice, water and sodas—alcoholic drinks and at no charge! The wine kept a’flowin’. I had a glass, or maybe it was two, and eventually had a hankering for a cup of coffee. (I’m a bit of a coffee-holic). The flight attendant told me that it wasn’t finished brewing yet (NOT instant coffee!) so he refilled my glass with more wine. I asked him if he was going to continue plying me with wine and he replied that he would, at least until I began dancing in the aisles.

Lufthansa, folks, I’m tellin’ ya, it’s the real deal.

I was seated in the back row of the middle section of this flying party boat and when I stood to stretch my legs, I could see the fleet of seats before me. Ninety nine percent of the passengers were watching a movie or a TV show on the screens embedded in the seat backs in front of them. I saw one person playing video chess. The other percent was sleeping. I didn’t see anyone reading.

That task was taken care of by me. I refuse to watch movies on airplanes or move my seat back, even if I knew how. I consider it an invasion of my space when the person in front of me does it and I wouldn’t dream of doing it to the person behind me. I’m funny that way, I guess. Latent martyr complex or something.

Anyway, pretentious little me sat and read my collection of stories by Franz Kafka that I purchased at a bookstore in Prague. I was in Prague, I had to buy some Kafka, right?

After we touched down back in Chicago, my wife and I had to stop on the way home to replenish our empty fridge. What did we buy for our dinner? Potato pancakes!

We just couldn’t get southern Europe out of our system.

 

Editor’s Note: Jim‘s last post for The Third City was Czech Mate

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Jim Siergey: Czech Mate

August 8th, 2014

My three traveling companions and I successfully repeated boarding and disembarking three different trains from Krąków to Prague. Considering some of our previous misadventures in direction, we heralded it as a major triumph. We rode in private train cars, just like in all those old British films. However, there was no sighting of Hercule Poirot or evidence of any murders being committed.

Prague is divided into nine districts. We stayed in the district called Staré Město, once again in the Old Town area. The centuries old buildings in Prague are very Rococo compared with those of Krąków. The detail and artistry found in the buildings, the doors, the manholes(!) and especially the churches is overwhelming.

Speaking of churches, May is the Prague Spring festival season and music blooms all around. A concert, generally with a string quartet is performed every night in some church everywhere. We attended quite a few. However, despite the abundance of churches, the Czech Republic is 98% atheist and weed is legal. It’s a fuckin’ paradise, man!

We performed all the requisite tourist duties, viewed the Astronomical Clock, Wenceslas Square, crossed the Charles Bridge, which is adorned with dozens of religious-themed statuaries, along with musicians and artists presenting their wares for sale, visited the Prague Castle and the Gothic St. Vitus Cathedral which housed stained glass windows that were nearly a hundred feet high. One of the windows was designed by Alfons Mucha.

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The John Lennon wall…

 

Anyone who was of age in the 1960s should remember the work of Mucha. His Art Nouveau posters were all the rage back then and adorned many a wall in college dorms and other opium dens. He is almost a god in the Czech Republic. When Czechoslovakia gained its independence after World War I, Mucha designed their currency, their stamps, a new coat of arms and even governmental buildings! His masterpiece, The Slav Epic consists of 20 canvases that depict the history of Czechs and other Slavic peoples. However, he is best known for his Art Nouveau posters. There is a lovely and tasteful Mucha Museum in Prague that is well worth visiting.

Another item of interest that we visited was the John Lennon Wall. The Lennon Wall began as a tribute to the former Beatle after his murder in 1980 and was a source for societal complaints and Beatles lyrics that would be whitewashed over by the Secret Police. The authorities couldn’t keep up with the constant remergence of art and graffitti so it remains today being constantly added to by visitors and inhabitants both. One could make a killing with a spray can concession at that site.

The whimsically erotic sculptures of David Cerny can be found scattered throughout the city, including the one of two men urinating into a pool that suspiciously looks like the map of the Czech Republic located outside the Kafka museum. There is a lot of public art throughout Prague.

There is also a lot of good food (if you like meat and dumplings, that is. Both Krąków and Prague are lands that vegetables forgot—except for cabbage) and beer. In Prague one can imbibe a brew that is called “tanked beer”. It is an unfiltered process where no oxygen touches the beer until it is poured. It definitely has a different taste but I’m not enough of a connoisseur to comment any further. Burp!

During our stay, nighttime dining was a bit of a challenge as many pubs and eateries were jam-packed with people watching The World Hockey Championship matches. The Czechs take hockey very seriously.

This one place we were in did not have a huge screen with the game projected upon it as several other places did so it was pretty empty. In fact, by the time we had finished our dinner we were the only people in the joint. As we looked about in order to ask for our bill we found that the staff had disappeared as well. We had to go in search of someone to take our korunas.

In an adjoining room, back by the bar and the kitchen, we found the wait staff huddled around a tiny portable TV watching the final seconds of the Czech Republic-Canada hockey game. The Czechs had valiantly scored two goals in rapid succession and were only one goal from tying the Canadians as the seconds ticked away. Despite many shots on goal and the emphatic cheers and urgings of the wait staff, the homeland lads fell short.

Only then were we able to settle up and depart into the saddened city.

 

Editor’s Note: Jim’s last post for The Third City was Room With A Mountain View

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Jim Siergey: Room With A Mountain View

August 3rd, 2014

Zakopane (pronounced Socko-ponny) is a town in southern Poland located at the foot of the Tatra Mountains on the Slovakian border. It is a ski mecca and where the Poles go to vacation. In reading about it, it sounded like a cool place to visit and the Poles living here in Chicago said that we must go there. It was only a two hour bus ride from Krakow, so we add it to our itinerary.Allow me to backtrack a bit. Before we undertook this European journey, my friend Bill invited me to come with him to a bar he sometimes goes to in Berwyn. He said that the bartender there is from Zakopane and maybe she’d have some advice for us.

So off to Berwyn we went. That particular bartender was off that night and when we explained our desires to see her to the bartender filling in for her, she said “Well, I’m from Zakopane too.”

She gave us the name of a friend of hers who had just opened a Bed and Breakfast in Witów, a small village about 10 miles west of Zakopane. I emailed back and forth a few times with Monika (the owner and thank goodness for Google Translate) and a reservation was set up.

Meanwhile, back in Kraków, Dora, Flora, Maura and I hopped a bus and headed out to the mountains. Upon our arrival, we immediately noted a big change. In Krakow, many people spoke English. Out in Zakopane the language spoken was strictly Polish. The only Polish the four of us could speak were the names of food and a few phrases that if replied to, we’d be at a loss for any further conversation. The fact that I couldn’t find the business card with the name and address of the place was of small, if any, help. I did, however, have the phone number so with the assistance of a cab driver and the iTranslate app on my wife’s Smartphone thing-a-ma-jig, we did ultimately arrive in Witów.

The place was, to lift a word from Mr. Cole Porter, “De-lovely”. It had originally been Monika’s grandfather’s farm and the stable had been remodeled into a large common room with four bedrooms with baths upstairs. It was all refurbished in a beautiful light-colored oak. The rooms were full of light and the whole place was set in the countryside complete with a babbling brook. It was a welcome change and respite from the big cityness that we just left in Krakow, and would soon re-enter in Prague.

 

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Beautiful, downtown Krakow…

 

Monika was a wonderful hostess and provider of food (a large breakfast was included) and information (in a mostly Polish with a bit of English sort of way). She even gave us a ride into town as well as provided us with return bus information.

More on that later.

We wandered about Zakopane a bit. It’s a nice-looking tourist town in a beautiful location. One could describe it as the Jackson Hole (or pick your own ski resort) of Poland. We took a cable car up to the top of Kasprowy Wierch, 1987 meters high. The view was breath-taking but the mountain peaks were completely covered with snow. The packed down snow made for very slippery footing so we couldn’t really explore as much as we’d have liked but the scenery was serene, Jack. We hung for quite a spell.

We eventually found our way back to the bus terminal and got on a bus headed in the right direction. As I said, Monika spoke little English and the English she did speak was heavily accented. We thought she had told us to get off at the first stop once we entered the city limits. So, once we saw the sign reading Witów, we scampered off the bus at the first stop only to discover that we were not where we should have been.

We were surrounded by farmland so there was nothing to do except walk along the highway on the muddy shoulder as cars sped past us. When we passed a herd of cows we knew we were headed in the right direction because we had passed them going into Zakopane. It was quite a bucolic scene. Every cow wore a cowbell and with the constant tinny dinking of their bells, there was no need to quote Christopher Walken. One of the cows stopped chewing her cud and stared at us in utter (udder?) disbelief and wonder as we slogged by.

 

cowswine

No cow jokes, please!

 

As we walked, we noticed that all the buildings and houses were triangular in shape…just like the mountains. But not A-frames, they were multi-level as well as multi-dimensional and always in a triangular motif. It was a nice touch.

Fifty long minutes later (and just as dusk was settling in) we reached Home Sweet Bed and Breakfast Home. During our trek, we counted the bus stops. What Monika said to us may have sounded like “the first stop” but what she had actually said was “the fourth stop.”

D’oh-ski!

Despite our misdirected miscommunication culminating in a clumsy hike, our stay in Witów and Zakopane was sweet and too short. Now we had to return to Krakow, and take what turned out to be three trains to Prague.

Orient Expressville, Daddio!

 

Editor’s Note: Jim‘s last post for The Third City was Krakow

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Jim Siergey: Krakow Continued

July 28th, 2014

I was in Krąków with my trio of intrepid explorers, Dora, Flora and Maura. We stayed in a pair of apartments a mere two blocks from the town square. Our landmark was the majestic St. Mary’s Basilica. Erected in the 1300s, its two uneven towers tower above the plethora of churches that dot the landscape of Krąków. As you may have heard, Poland is a very Catholic country. You can’t swing a cat without bumping into one—churches or Catholics.

The towers of St. Mary’s are uneven because of sibling architectural rivalry. Two brothers were building each tower and one killed the other because he didn’t want the other’s tower to be taller. Throughout the history of mankind, size continues to matter.

There is also a trumpeteer who plays a shortened plaintive tune every hour from a window of the taller tower. The story is that back in the old days (and since we’re in Europe, these were really old days. Old with an e at the end.), the city was under attack and the trumpeteer was sounding the alarm by playing Hejnał mariacki a trumpet signal. His blowing was cut short by an arrow through his throat. Be it truth or legend, a trumpet that abruptly ends its tune is played every hour. I can say with certainty that it’s played every hour as I heard it at two and three in the morning.

There is a lot of beer flowing in Krąków and much of it is dark, which was fine with me as the inkier the brew, the drinkier I do. I was pleasantly surprised to find Zywiec and two brews found in Chicago, available as Porters. Sitting at a café table out in the town square, watching the world go by as one sips a cold one while nibbling on sauerkraut and sausages is vacation mode at its best.

One evening, as we were perusing the menu posted outside one of the various restaurants scattered throughout the square, a tall fellow in a long red coat came out to entice us to dine inside.

“You like good Polish food?” he asked, “We have the finest in Krąków, also Georgian style too.” I’m sure he didn’t mean grits and barbeque but Russian-style cuisine.

My cousin inquired “Gołąbki?”

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Jim went to Poland and all he got…

 

Gołąbki is the Polish spelling of Golapki, pronounced Go-Woomp-ki. Stuffed cabbage rolls to all you Anglos. Gołąbki is generally stuffed with ground beef, rice, onions and seasonings, wrapped in a cabbage leaf and covered in a tomatoey sauce. I should inform you that my cousin, my sister and I are of Polish descent. My grandfather made the best Gołąbki and my cuz hadn’t had any since her mother passed away and she wanted to have some in Poland. Curiously, we did not find it on the many menus we had perused.)

Goląbki?” the red-coated fellow replied, his eyebrows arching in surprise, “You want Gołąbki? Come, I show you the best Gołąbki in town.”

He proceeded to march down the street and the three of us followed. This tall man in the billowing red coat was the Pied Piper and we were the ratty children following him to the Promised Land where not manna but Gołąbki would fall from the sky. (Please excuse my mixed metaphors) We scampered to keep up with his wide stride as he turned the corner and walked down another street before turning into a narrow alleyway.

“Hmmm”, our suspicious minds whirred as we hesitantly but hungrily followed this fellow down this dubious-looking thoroughfare. But it soon opened into a brightly lit area with a couple of stores and a rustic-looking establishment called Chlopskie Jadlo. This was the place. He led us in, conferred with the waiter for a bit and then returned to his post.

We had a marvelous dinner. They indeed had Gołąbki with both a tomato sauce and a mushroom sauce. We fortified ourselves with before-dinner shots of Gorzka vodka and then gorged ourselves on a good old-fashioned Polish dinner. We later learned that Chlopskie Jadlo translated into “peasant food”.

Speaking of vodka, the pride of Poland is Żubrówka Bison Grass vodka. I swallowed a stampede of this stuff every chance I got. “Na Zdorovie!” (“To your health!”)

We spent a delightful week in Krąków, lots of wandering around, visiting museums and other points of interest as well as just enjoying…being there. Oh, before I write off Krąków I need to add that I did actually see a Pole carrying a pole. It made my day.

It was now time to head south, to the Tatra Mountains and the paradisiacal town of Zakopane.

 

Editor’s Note: Jim‘s last post for The Third City was Jimmy Krakow

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